According to new research, being a pessimist may put you at risk of heart disease, or even death! Conversely, keeping a positive outlook can help protect your heart.
“We don’t know exactly why, but attitude does appear to matter when it comes to heart disease and health,” says University of Pittsburgh Medical Center internist Hilary A. Tindle, MD, MPH.
The study included 97,000 postmenopausal women, and none of them had heart disease prior to participation. (more…)
Not all health solutions are about what you eat and how you physically exercise. Some exercise is mental and it purposely involves no physical activity. Meditation isn’t just relaxing, it can expand your intellect as well. While you build bigger muscles with weights, you build a bigger brain with the relaxation methods of meditation.
“In meditation, effort must be applied in a direction opposite to what we are used to. Our effort must be to relax ever more deeply,” says John Novak, author of Lessons in Meditation.
There’s physical evidence of these brain-expanding benefits. The researchers from the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging used a high-resolution, three-dimensional form of MRI and two different approaches to measure differences in brain structure. (more…)
Too often we think about exercise as a “work” out and some sort of punishment. (I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that piece of wedding cake.) When you were a kid, you likely got plenty of exercise by playing with your friends and exploring your environment (as long as you weren’t allowed to spend all your time in front of the TV or video games). Kids don’t naturally find exercise to be something to be dreaded. Remember the joy you felt spinning as fast as you could with your arms outstretched or grasping tightly to those of your friend? Do you remember the laughter when you tumbled into the grass feeling dizzy? (more…)
New research is suggesting that our characterization of St. Nicholas as a jolly elf with a belly that bounces like a bowl full of jelly when he laughs may be very accurate. That is not to say that ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause;’ but rather the research is suggesting that those who have extra fat around their midsection get more pleasure out of deep belly laughs.
Laughing is good for you mentally and physically. Research has shown that laughing reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, elevates mood, increases immune system functioning, improves brain functioning, protects the heart, is relaxes your body and mind, increases energy, and helps you connect to others. Laughing can stimulate your brain, abdominal muscles, and dopamine receptors. The simple act of contorting facial muscles into the shape of a smile, stimulates your brain to release chemicals that make you feel happy; imagine the power of laughing.
There are many types of laughter: snickers, giggling, snorts, chuckles, guffaws, taunting, near hyperventilation, and belly laughs. Apparently not all laughs are created equal. What the research is suggesting is that to get the longest lasting effects and feelings of jolliness, one must laugh with an intensity that vibrates the fat pad that lies over the abdominal muscle wall. When your belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly, the vibrations extend and intensify the chemical effect of laughter.
If you would like to be as jolly as St. Nick, especially if you have a rounder belly, don’t hold back with your laughter. Allow your joy to be a full body experience and it will last long past the joke that you originally found entertaining. Learn more about this research at Happy April Fool’s Day from DietsInReview.com!
Mini-marathon participants running through downtown Indianapolis.
In just under seven weeks, I will be running the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon for the second time. Part of the events leading up to the Indianapolis 500 each year, the Mini-Marathon is the largest half-marathon and the fifth largest running event in the United States. It is a major event for Indianapolis, including participants from all over the world, across age brackets, and of all speeds. I have fast new shoes and I am running more days than I’m not. I obviously have running on the brain. We write about the health benefits of running frequently, but there are several mental health benefits also.
1. Run when you are feeling angry or frustrated to burn off the extra energy. Research has shown that nothing relieves stress more than physical exercise.
2. Running increases endorphins which contributes to a general sense of well-being and mood elevation, so running can make you feel better when you are sad. (more…)
Jason, Matt, and I have all blogged about the importance of music to our workouts. There has been a lot of research about the effect of music on mood and even matching tempo to heart rate. There also appears to be a magic number for volume; Spinal Tap had it right all along.
Dr. Neil Todd and his team has been cited extensively on their research regarding the sacculus, an organ in the inner ear that helps regulate balance. The sacculus is attached to the hypothalamus by the vestibular nerve. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that helps regulate appetite, libido, temperature, anger, and fatigue. They report that this connection could explain the rush that many feel when their balance is effected through carnival rides, bungee jumping, or even swinging as a child. (more…)
Being a kid is tough. You’re dealing with puberty and peer pressure. It can all be so overwhelming. And sometimes those pressures can manifest themselves as anger.
Parents know all too well how kids can huff and puff, slam doors, or fight with siblings as an outlet for their frustrations. To compound things, overweight kids may be more susceptible to bullying, which in turn can make them more volatile.
Now, researchers have found that the best way to ease anger is by exercise. Exercise is known to help improve mood and reduce hostility in adults, so why not with kids? And if children are happier and calmer, they are sure to be less hostile.
“It may help children control their anger, and that might be because they’re in a better mood because they don’t get angry as much,” says Dr. Catherine L. Davis of the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, the lead researcher on the study.
The proof came in two of three controlled groups of kids who were given 20 minutes of daily exercise, or 40 minutes of exercise for 10 to 15 weeks. The more a child’s fitness increased, the greater his or her anger was reduced.
I could never imagine a world without music. And there’s good reason why…
A Swedish study has come to the conclusion that music makes us happy. Shocker, right? I’ve always said that a workout without music is just work (outdoor activities excluded).
Researchers in Sweden followed 32 college students and monitored their behavior with and without music. While music made the participants happy, when not listening to tunes, emotions such as anger, irritation, anxiety, and boredom prevailed.
“The study shows that emotional responses to music depend on complex interactions between the listener, the music, and the situation,” the authors write in their conclusion.
The study was published in Emotion, a journal of the American Psychological Association. Here are more details on how the Swedes came to their conclusions.